4 December 2016

Tis’ the season.

Now what does that mean? Well, it means that Christmas time is here.

08-charlie

For everyone that is a different interpretation. The usual it is a time to get together with loved ones and have a good ol’ time. Whether it be in your hometown, the town next door, out-of-state, or even overseas, this holiday brings people together. The downside of this is that it also brings pain to people as well. People do pass on, loved ones are further away, some whereabouts of people are unknown, finances are tight, and sickness comes around. I get that.

…but the true meaning of Christmas trumps all.

It is when the most precious gift that we could have ever imagined was given to all of mankind. A chance for us to be set free from our human downfalls , mistakes , and damage. We have the chance to live in complete freedom and be a part of the kingdom of heaven. No one is excluded.

That is what Christmas means to me. Everything else is secondary.

However, even I have been guilty of stressing about the gifts part. Naturally I am a giver and what to give the world to people, but sometimes things get unrealistic and you start to realize how temporary it all is.

What actually lasts is the memories. Being PRESENT is more impactful then giving a PRESENT.

I was privileged to be a part of a new way of celebrating the Christmas season this year. Considering that this is my first holiday season where I was not in my normal pattern of celebrating the holidays , it was all still satisfying.

First off, I was got to go Christmas tree shopping for the first time! Not once, but actually TWICE. The perks of being a part of a community that takes Christmas seriously has it’s perks. We all wore our festive Christmas sweaters (mine had Will Smith as the “Fresh Price” on it!!! #winning) and then we went to the tree farm

 

When we got there, I never knew how they categorized Christmas trees by sizes, prices, and species. Next time, I want to experience actually cutting down the tree and all. I heard it builds character…

character

The hunt for the best Christmas tree led to the amazing transition to my brief return to my HOMETOWN. It was such wonderful timing returning home when I did. It was right in between holidays and snow was creeping around. Just like the fresh snow I felt like I was coming back refreshed. Yet, a day had barely went by and my neighbor of 10+ years had passed away the morning I got there. He was 89. It amazed me that throughout his health struggles how he continued to retrieve his mail and even drive days before his passing. Although the timing may have seemed difficult I was able to attend the ceremony. It was so different because their traditions stemmed from Hinduism which is so new to me. I had no idea what to expect. Yes, things were different from the music to the speeches, but one thing that was truly evident is that love for that man was everywhere.

Like I said in the previous blog, there seems to be so much loss around the holidays season. It is hard to look beyond the hardships that come from that, but it is not hopeless. That person’s life does continue on through all the living people they’ve touched.

Of course the trip was not all meditative. There were a bunch of good moments.

1.I got to see the movies TROLLS with my sister due to a movie mix-up….but let me tell you. It was clever. The way they modernized the look of those classic dolls and all those pop cover songs had me mesmerized. Plus the story-line about true happiness is a good lesson for all of us to learn.

2. I saw Olivet Nazarene’s Christmas program “Sounds of Seasons”. It was quite extravagant. I got to support a dear friend and her Christmas harp solo debut!! She slayed. The little road-trip to get there was one to remember too! I was reunited with friends I had known for years who are practically family. Plus there is nothing like getting  getting 5 extra people in the cafeteria with your student meal points. We were so cool that whole day.

3. FYI I am from Chicago(land) and I DO really like it. However when winter hits and I have to go outside to do things like shovel , get the mail, or shop…I rather not. You can try to look cute if you want to, BUT the wind and snow combo will getcha!

bt6lrix

With that said, I had the honor of visiting one of my closest friends in downtown Chicago. The hustle and bustle of that city is jolting. I believe this is the first year I was a part of all the busyness. Yes, I have lived here basically all my life BUT I never had that choice of being downtown around Christmas before. It was actually quite enjoyable going in and out of the mall and feeling all the Christmas vibes. We were even blessed with a FREE large tea from the kindest worker at a tea shop. It was just in time for a fresh snowfall to start and the wind started blow. The magical moment was over. Thanks but no thanks.

 

4. I had an early Christmas with my family. My mother basically made a 15-course meal!! Then we found out it was my uncle’s birthday to our surprise haha! Oh and family time wouldn’t be complete without moving heavy furniture. It was also sweet to be able to have a “pre-Christmas present unwrapping.” I was very happy.

 

C H R I S T M A S  E V E was marvelous.

Although I did not spend the actual day with my blood family, there was plenty of family all around.

To begin I went to not one, not two but THREE Christmas services. I think I am familiar with almost every verse of “Silent Night” now…. However, it was all really good. I got to have 3 very different experiences. The first being an intimate setting in a house with a ducky congregation, the second supporting two fellow interns that had choir and a dance brigade as a part of their services, and lastly was a congregation that gave me the Nashville vibes again. All three had us light candles and sing “silent night”.

 

That was my favorite part.

Not just cause I like to play with fire and it puts me in a trance but the meaning behind it. It is the beauty of the gift that is meant to be shared to everyone. “…a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 What a moment.

The next morning was CHRISTMAS DAY. I super excited. So excited that I my alarm did not go off but instead my roommate blasted “Make Me” by Noah Cyrus ft. Labrinth. Not a Christmas song but accurate considering the circumstances. Once I got myself together we exchanged Christmas gifts and then shortly there after made chocolate chip pancakes.

Then we traveled to Casa Sophia (the girls’ intern house) where we brought a fellow co-worker from my roommate’s job and reunited with another intern and her parents that were visiting for the holidays. To partner with the delicious taco Christmas Eve dinner we had a follow-up Christmas Day lunch. Afterwards we did a Christmas photo-shoot in Fremont and ended at this festive Christmas family party. It was a real good Christmas.

I realized how the meaning of Christmas does not change just because you are not in your ideal place. If getting what you want is all Christmas is about to you then it’s time to reevaluate priorities. Being able to share the love of the one that was born to save humanity so long ago is the reason for the season…but seriously.

It hard to hear about how people dislike Christmas because of all the things that have gotten in the way of the TRUE meaning. High expectations, family drama, ungratefulness, all that is not Christmas. There are also so many people who wish they had what you have. I can sit here and tell you how many sad Christmas family stories I’ve heard. Hearing these stores realigned what Christmas should be.

I encourage all of you today to hold on to the ones that care about you right now in this moment. Strip away any credentials or expectations of those people. If their actions are love then hold them close. There are so many gifts that you do not need Christmas to remind you of.

audrey-h-q

-JV

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